Sunday, November 11, 2012

TriRock Clearwater triathlon

November 11, 2012

A few months ago I became one of the local Ambassadors for the TriRock Clearwater race. I was very excited to help promote this new triathlon that featured bands on the course, a red carpet finish and bling for all finishers!

Race weekend started for me very early Saturday morning. Gina and I headed up to Clearwater to work at the Fit2Run tent at the expo. We got all our gear and bikes stored in the hotel room, before walking the two blocks to the expo/triathlon area. It was a perfect spot, right in front of the beach! A beautiful day out for an expo. We both had fun working and talking with the athletes who showed up to shop and pick up there packets. After working until 2pm, we headed to the beach for some relaxation and sun time. After the beach, we headed to this restaurant/bar near our hotel. The name: Cooters. :) We took a seat at the bar, with the intention of having just one drink. The bar tender, Patrick, heard it was my birthday (recently) and decided to give us a couple of Strawberry Shortcake drinks. They were pretty yummy! Melissa, Lauren, Katie and her parents, decided to come over, so we all got a table and had dinner. We had a yummy dinner before heading back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

Dawn, me and Gina before the race.
Race morning started at 5:30. We got up, put on our number tattoos, grabbed our gear and bikes and then headed over to the transition area. It was a little cool out, but not to bad. We meet up with Dawn, Susan and Steve, who were doing the intermediate triathlon as a relay team. Dawn was very brave to be swimming the 1500 meters with no wetsuit! We had tested the water the day before and it was cold! I got all my gear set out in front of my bike (normally it's under the back tire open space), pulled on my wetsuit, grabbed my swim items and then headed to the beach.

The sand was so cold! We were kicked out of transition at 6:30. I had almost an hour to stand around in the cold before my wave started! There was a great rock band up on the pier playing music, which helped to get us all pumped up and ready to race. Dawn's wave was going out early, so we stood near the water to cheer her on as she ran into the water. Since I had some time, I decided to head back up to the bathroom for a quick pit stop before getting myself into the corral. I got back in time to see Gina head out. I finished getting myself ready. Pulling the wetsuit all the way up, putting my ear plugs in and putting the swim cap on. Soon enough my wave was heading into the water!

Pretty sure this is in T1. Getting my bike
off the rack and about to head out. :)
Swim, 500 meters: I ran in feeling good. The wetsuit was working. I didn't feel much of anything until I got all the way in to start swimming. Yikes! What a shock to the system that water was once my head was all the way in! I was side swimming with my head out of the water for a little bit before I had the courage to swim with a normal freestyle stroke. The water, that looked calm before all the swimmers got in, was very choppy and had a strong current. Once I made the first turn to the right, swimming parallel to the beach, I found the swim even harder. I just kept swimming along. Lots of people were off to the side, hanging on the volunteer surfboards, resting. Soon I was making another right turn at the green buoy and heading back to shore. Hooray! By this time, the wave of guys who had started behind me, had started to catch up. I had a bunch of them passing me. No worry. I was doing my own pace and race! Ran out of the water and up the soft sand beach to the transition. I pulled my wetsuit down halfway as I was running up the beach. Got to my bike, pulled the wetsuit off pretty quick, poured some water on my frozen feet, and then dried them a little before pulling on socks and shoes. I grabbed my sunglasses, race belt (didn't want to forget it again) and put on my helmet before heading off with my bike. I did spend a little too much time trying the change my garmin from swim to bike mode. Need to figure out the multisport mode! The run with the bike out of transition was long! Finally I was able to get on my bike and take off! Swim - 16.54. T1 - 5:18

Bike, 13.4 miles: The bike course is very similar to the run course of the Iron Girl half marathon. I knew to expect bridges! We got in a couple of flat miles before hitting the first of 3 tall bridges. I made decent time getting up that first bridge. I even managed to pass a couple of people. I had fun speeding down the other side. We had lots of right and left turns through the neighborhood after the bridge. Thankfully that was over pretty quick and we were able to build up some speed. It didn't seem like I was riding as fast as I normally do (though finish time says I was) but I didn't let that discourage me and just kept peddling as hard as I could. Soon we were at the second big bridge. This was my only frustating part of the race.  Just as I was starting up the bridge, this woman started to pass me. But she only got her front tire past mine before slowing to my speed. The rules say that she is now ahead of me and I must drop back or get a penalty. What! I didn't want to slow down going up hill! She finally got ahead of me enough that I could drop behind and pass her on her left. There were lots of other people coming up on my left too, which made it kind of crazy. This section was not closed to traffic, so we only had a bike lane to ride in. Thankfully I got clear of her, made it to the top and was able to speed down the other side. We were now back on the Island. A nice long stretch of road heading toward Clearwater beach, with a bit of headwind! Made it to the last, steep bridge, powered over and headed toward transition. Just before reaching it, I hear my name called. Gina is heading out on the run. Made it to my transition spot, quick work racking my bike and grabbing my run gear before heading out of there. Bike - 43:36. T2 - 50 seconds

Run: 3.1 miles: My legs felt surprising good as I started the run. I felt like my pace wasn't too hard (8:42 min mile), so I decided to try and hold it for a while. We had a short out and back in the lane next to the returning triathletes on their bikes. I was able to see Gina here. She was looking strong! We ran back by the transition area and finish line before running towards that first bridge we rode over on the bike. Thankfully the sprint distance runners were going to turn around before that bridge! The longer distance racers were going to be running over it! The run was still going great. It was sunny, but not hot. I never felt overheated. As I was running through the very narrow water stop, that was just before mile 2, I felt someone push me in the middle of my back, What!! The guy did say "sorry" after he passed me, but geesh, he needed to back off! There was another band here playing 80's songs. Love it! :) I saw Gina again before getting to the turn around. Heading back I saw Elaine and then Teresa. I was very happy as I turned the corner and started running down the red carpet. I gave the race announcer a high-five as I ran passed her and then raised my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line. Hooray, I finished my 6th sprint triathlon! :) Run - 27:18.

Me and Gina after the race!
Gina and I got to hang out in the VIP area (lots of nice food and hot coffee!) while we waited for our friends to finish. I soon found out that I had placed in my Athena age group. I got 2nd out of 10! :) We hung out for a while and then grabbed our gear and bikes, took them back to the car, before heading back to wait for awards. I got a great big beer mug for my award.

I've been having fun doing triathlons this year, but I'm happy to take a break and focus on running. Lots of races on my schedule. :)

Bling, shirt and age group award mug!

Me with Kristen,
my ambassador boss. :)

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